We write to you because our voices have been silenced.
Tuesday night former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
spoke at Binghamton University at an event sponsored by the Binghamton
Political Initiative, the Walter Rodney Committee and other campus
groups. While we expected her speech to be biased against Israel,
based on her well-documented record of past presentations of this
nature, we were utterly unprepared for our opposing points of view to
be so forcefully suppressed.
As executive board
members of Hillel at Binghamton and members of an academic community,
we felt that it was our responsibility to educate our peers on all
angles of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Therefore, we had spent
the week leading up to the event preparing handouts with information
representing various points of view that we believed would not be
shared by Ms. McKinney.
shock, at the beginning of last nightís event, student coordinators
were forcibly taking this information away from people. The moderator
publicly announced that anyone who received handouts should pass them
to the aisle for immediate confiscation. These actions are
unacceptable. As students at an institution that promotes academic
honesty, integrity, and truth, we are angered that our right to free
speech was so clearly denied. Once we distributed the sheets, those
who held them had the choice to read the information or disregard it,
but it was in no way the coordinatorsí or moderatorís right to
aggressively take away that choice.
Throughout the evening,
student coordinators threatened to remove anyone who offered a
dissenting opinion, and during the question and answer period anyone
who even hinted at a different point of view was either intimidated or
embarrassed into silence. An extreme lack of respect was shown to
anyone in attendance who did not wholeheartedly endorse Ms. McKinneyís presentation.
representatives of the Jewish community on campus, we are outraged that
our fellow students chose to bring a speaker to campus who has such a
clear record of bigotry. Ms McKinney is
strongly tied to the New Black Panther Party, which the Southern
Poverty Law Center calls a "black racist" group and is decidedly
anti-white and anti-semitic. In 2006, McKinney lost her seat in congress. "Following McKinney's
concession speech, a reporter attempted to ask the Congresswoman why
she thought she lost. The New Black Panther member (part of McKinney's
security detail) interrupted, shouting, "Why do you think she lost? You
wanna know what led to the loss? Israel. The Zionists. You. Put on your
yarmulke and celebrate." (Anti Defamation League Press Release, August
We are deeply saddened by the fact that our
peers who planned this event clearly had no desire for any real
discourse other than the hate speech that was delivered to the
audience. While we do not have to agree with one another, we do have a
responsibility to respect one another and allow for the open exchange
of opinions. Ms. McKinney's visit to
Binghamton was an affront to any multicultural efforts on campus.
Furthermore, it insults the significant struggles that
African-Americans went through to gain civil rights in the United
States and the Jewish community's support for those civil rights.
Jewish leaders marched in Montgomery and Selma. Fifty percent of white
civil rights workers were Jewish and fifty percent of civil rights
attorneys in the south were Jewish. Jews helped to found the NAACP.
Historically Black Colleges welcomed professors who were Holocaust
survivors to teach on their campuses. Ms. McKinney wants us to throw away this glorious shared history and begin a new relationship of bitterness and misunderstanding.
sincerely disagree with this approach and hope that the leaders of all
multicultural groups at Binghamton University share our desire to work
together to combat hate and intolerance by creating opportunities for
real dialogue. We look forward to a day when we can truly partner with
our fellow students and learn to understand and respect one anotherís